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The Road Rage Wars

Cyclists should heed a new survey that ranks cities based on their incidences of road rage.

Cyclists and drivers in the U.S. need to learn to get along.     Photo: MizarLuca/Thinkstock

Cyclists would do well to avoid Houston, Texas, at least according to a new survey by AutoVantage that rated city drivers on their levels of road rage. 

For the Driver’s Seat Road Rage Survey, the company polled 2,500 commuters about how their fellow drivers behave on the road. The study, which pulled people from more than 25 cities nationwide, explored how well drivers obeyed the rules of the road (think speed limits and red lights), the prevalence of driving distractions (talking on cell phones or eating at the wheel), and etiquette issues such as honking, cursing, and making obscene gestures.

According to the survey, Houston has the least courteous drivers in the country. People there are the most likely to cut off other drivers, slam on their brakes in anger, and talk on their cell phones while driving. Rounding out the top five cities with the least courteous drivers were Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Boston.

While the survey didn’t specifically address bikes, it’s clear that cities with high incidences of road rage are probably not ideal for cyclists. But the flip side is that cities with low rates of road rage are generally good spots for riders and bike commuters. 

Case in point: Portland, Oregon, which had the most courteous drivers of any other city in the survey. Arguably a reflection of its good-natured drivers, the city is also widely considered the most forward-thinking in the U.S. when it comes to bike-related attitudes and infrastructure. Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Charlotte followed Portland as having the most courteous drivers in the country.

The study had other good news for cyclists. Since AutoVantage released its first Road Rage survey in 2009, drivers across the nation have become 15 percent less likely to talk on their phone while at the wheel. They’re also 12 percent less likely to eat or drink while driving, and four percent less likely to engage in other distracting behaviors such as putting on make-up or fiddling with music.

But the data wasn’t all positive. According to the survey, nine percent more drivers text while driving today than they did in 2009. And of course it’s when drivers’ eyes are off the road that they’re most likely to inadvertently run into a cyclist.

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